New Hampshire beachgoers witness small plane crash into surf, flip in water

31 July 2023

HAMPTON BEACH, N.H. (AP) — A small plane that crashed into the ocean just off a New Hampshire beach over the weekend flipped upside down when it hit the water before slowly rolling back into an upright position.

The pilot of the single-engine Piper PA-18 plane that had been pulling a banner advertising a concert made his own way out of the aircraft after Saturday’s noontime crash and was assisted ashore by Hampton Beach lifeguards who moments before had been keeping a close eye on swimmers.

The pilot was evaluated at the scene but was not hurt, police said.

The plane had been buzzing over the crowded beach all morning dragging a banner for an Eagles tribute band playing Saturday night at a local venue, said Tammy Nowlan of Fitchburg, Massachusetts, who was at the beach with her boyfriend and caught video of the crash on her phone.

When the plane dropped the banner, she knew something was wrong.

“I remember my boyfriend saying, ‘Looks like something fell off that plane,’” Nowlan said on Monday.

She grabbed her phone and captured the plane hitting the water about 30 yards (27 meters) off the shore and somersaulting over.

“It was the craziest thing,” she said. “It just slowly glided in like something from a movie. I saw the pilot get out and he was safe, and I said, ‘Thank goodness.’”

Authorities did not release the pilot’s name but the aircraft is registered to the owner of Sky Lines Aerial Advertising, based at nearby Hampton Airfield, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. Voicemail messages were left with the company on Monday.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

According to preliminary information released by the FAA on Monday, the aircraft crashed “for unknown reasons.”

The plane was hauled onto the sand and eventually turned over to the owner.

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